Traits fine tune - they clarify the extremes of inherent ability represented by Thresholds, and they represent the details of an Aspect as well. Ranging from simple attributes like Strong, to advantageous features like Photographic Memory, and on to plain old skills like Rock Climbing. Traits can go beyond these, though, to define features of objects, organizations, and unique abilities. It all depends on what the Trait is modifying.

Trait or Aspect?

It might be a bit confusing as to how a Trait is different from an Aspect. When you have something in particular in mind, how do you know which it should be? Happily, there are a couple important differences that make it easy.

First of all, Traits have one color they're associated with, while Aspects don't. Traits work within the specific scopes of the spectrum, so if the idea in your head ranges across multiple colors, it's likely not a Trait. Traits are limited - it's part of why they apply constantly.

Which is a second difference. Traits are active at all times - if a Trait applies to the situation, and it's the right color, it will always be included in the draw. Aspects only apply when they're invoked or compelled.

Finally, Traits are fairly simple and straightforward, while Aspects are convoluted, poetic, and much more descriptive. Strong is a Red Trait, but Priest of Zorax, God of Strength is clearly an Aspect. Some additional examples will further clarify:

Trait Aspect
Stamina R Mile Man and Marathon
Marksman A Have Gun Will Shoot
Sonar-sense G Holy Radioactive Dolphins!
Chemistry C The Secrets of the Universe in a Teeny Tiny Test-tube
Fashion B Designer to the Stars
Meditation M The Silence Within
Amulet of Protection X The Ruby Eye of Horus

Traits and Colors

Every Trait has a single color associated with it. That color is important, because it defines the circumstances in which the Trait can be used. Usually, the color is obvious - Weightlifting is clearly red. Other Traits may not be so easy to associate - what color is Dance?

It's not immediately obvious, but most Traits can actually be associated with almost any color; such is the case for Dance. Red Dance might be jazzercize. The precise movements of ballet would be Amber, and the free-form steps of modern dance could be Blue.

But even the obvious color is not necessarily the only that you could associate with it. Weightlifting, as a Cyan Trait, would be about the science and facts of weightlifting, the history too, rather than the practice. Turn it into an Amber Trait, and it would be all about posing. Magenta might be weightlifting as a moving meditation, developing the will.

Ultimately, it's your choice. Select the color that most fits your concept. If the Trait you have in mind spans a number of colors, you might make multiple Traits, or place the Trait in the center of that range, so as to be effective for as much of the span as possible. Keep in mind that though the Trait is always "on", it is only on for tasks of the appropriate color. If you assign Red to Weightlifting, without Luck, you can't use it for a Cyan draw. You can use it for the adjacent color, Amber and Magenta, but only at half strength.

Traits and Numbers

The numbers associated with a Trait define how great an effect it has, how strong it is. Since Traits represent the best of a character, even a single mote is significant. It may seem wrong to say that - "What if your Red TH is only 2? One mote in Weightlifting isn't that significant!" you say to yourself.

Well, is someone with only 2 in Red, a somewhat sickly sort of individual, really going to be involved in Weightlifting? If they do, they're going to have to work twice as hard, if not more, to reach the same level as individuals with more talent and better genes (i.e. a higher Red TH).

It's also important to remember how Traits work. Just a single mote guarantees success in average tasks, so even the athlete with only 2 motes in Red can succeed. The heights of his success, though, are limited.

Trait's Hand Strength
+1 The average skilled workman
+2 Academics and experts
+3 One of the top 5 in the world
+4 Legendary
+5 Mythic
And so on…

How Traits Work

Though it's covered in the details of making a Draw, it's a good idea to refresh your mind about how Traits work while you're reading up on them.

First, Traits are limited by the color they're associated with, and can never be higher than that color. If you have 2 motes in Red, then you can't have a Red trait with more than two motes. You can't have a total number of motes in a color's Traits either - with only 2 in Red, the two +1 Traits associated with Red is all you can do. You can't go below zero because of negative Traits either.

When it comes to the draw, each mote in a relevant Trait, in the correct color, equals 2 motes of Power, in an adjacent color, 1 mote. Traits can only be used with matching draws - if the draw has a target of Blue, you can't use the Red Trait. Well, not without some Luck, anyway, and a good explanation.

It's that simple: if the colors match, a +1 Trait is 2 Power.

The reverse of course, is also true. If you have a negative Trait, then each mote in that counts as -2 Power. You're behind the eight ball before you've even drawn.

Finally, Traits can always be used a motes in a draw instead. Each mote in the Trait grants 2 for a draw. You're trading a certain 2 Power for a potential 4 Power from those 2 motes. But there's also a risk of no Power - that's the choice you make.

Defining the Trait

Traits are simple to define. Chose the word or words that describe it, choose a color, and note how many motes go into it. If you have a mote put into your Zen monk's ability in meditation, jot down Meditation M+1. The magic sword might have Vorpal R+2, the cop would have Marksman A+1, and the devoted musician, Guitar G+3.